Human Fragility And Fortitude

I have been thinking about what to write about the events of the past few days. If you are like me, you have kept an eye on the news, but have tried not to sit for hours watching every development minute by minutes – because it is truly frightful.

I spent most of the weekend with a close friend of mine who is terminally ill, and yet is showing amazing strength of heart despite her prognosis. Jack is tied up with lots of phone-calls and online meetings. He speaks Russian and Romanian fluently, and is busy in talks with all sorts of people who are making decisions.

I was able to help my friend to enjoy the snowdrops that are growing just outside her current accommodation. We talked about a famous short story called “Snowdrops”, written by Leslie Norris. Many of us studied this particular story in depth for our GCSE English coursework and exams.

The story which is told through the eyes of a young schoolboy has profound themes – death, grief, human fragility and fortitude, and other moving undercurrents – and the metaphoric allusion to snowdrops. I am not doing a great job of summing it up, but it is a story that has stayed with me for the past twenty years.

Human fragility and fortitude. I think a lot of people were shaken by the Pandemic. Facing unprecedented restrictions freedoms, anxiety over finances, social isolation, and of course for many the suffering of actually being effected severely health-wise by Covid-19, or losing a loved one to the virus. Disagreements with loved ones about vaccines. Frustration with those who seemed to be contributing to the spread of the virus by not following measures put in place to limit it. Cabin fever, leading to increased stress and irritation at home. Outrage about injustices that via social media were witnessed internationally and provoked huge outcry.

It has been a tough two years for many many people – there has been a general feeling of weariness. From around mid-January, I noticed that a lot of people seemed to relax here in the UK with regards to Covid. It may well be due to statistics showing lower numbers of cases and vaccine efficacy, but I think it also had a lot to do with people being anxious prior to Christmas because they did not want their plans to see loved ones to be cancelled, and then once the holidays were over, they seemed to not care anymore. I also noticed a lot of people seizing the opportunity to book holidays abroad as soon as travel restrictions were lifted. Perhaps they hope that two weeks on the beach in the sunshine will help them recover from a challenging two years.

But now….all of a sudden…world events have taken another turn, and I have noticed a very mixed response. Oddly, I have heard some who seem to have no interest in what is going on, and are only concerned whether their football team will win their match at the weekend. I have heard conversations about parties, holidays, shopping trips, meals out at restaurants….and all sorts of recreational events…and some have reacted to anybody mentioning the situation in Ukraine with “Oh, I am not watching any of the news, I don’t want to think about it”.

Although I can understand some of the feelings that might prompt someone to say that, it is also a little concerning that they are giving an impression of indifference to the plight of millions, yet maintaining their enthusiasm for football or Netflix. Yet, I am aware that many people are genuinely exhausted by the demands on them during the Pandemic, and cannot cope with feeling of something so awful.

There are many others of course who despite feeling rather helpless, are deeply concerned with the events in Ukraine, and many are doing what is in their power to help the many hundreds of thousands (or more) who have fled from their homes.

There are fierce winds blowing and shaking people, just the way that late winter freezing winds batter those delicate snowdrops. Humans are so beautiful, so fragile, yet have such an amazing ability to show strength in a hostile environment.

I Know She’ll Be The Death Of Me

Jim Adams, aka Newepicauthor, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen the theme: DEATH/DESTRUCTION/PESTILENCE/FAMINE

Desert, Arid, Dry, Drought, Landscape, Nature, Natural

What a nice cheery subject. I have to say, while searching for a song to fit this weeks words…I was amazed at how many terrible songs I came across.

I have picked a song that I recognized from tannoy systems in the local shops, so presumably it was somewhat popular. It has a great tune, but the lyrics are….well….nothing to get excited about. Still, there were some dreadful songs I could have picked instead, so I decided to go for the most upbeat. This is The Weeknd, and I know I have liked some other tracks by The Weeknd. The song has the distinguished title “Can’t Feel My Face”.

I just want to add…if you have a fear of fire – DO NOT WATCH THE WHOLE OF THIS VIDEO. As it happens, I do have a fear – I won’t have candles in my nest and I turn off all the electric switches when I am out because there were so many house fires in the town I grew up in (plus every primary school in the town was burnt down during my childhood). The latter part of this video did disturb me.

And I know she'll be the death of me, at least we'll both be numb
And she'll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come
But at least we'll both be beautiful and stay forever young
This I know, (yeah) this I know

She told me, "Don't worry about it"
She told me, "Don't worry no more"
We both knew we can't go without it
She told me, "You'll never be alone"

I can't feel my face when I'm with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh
I can't feel my face when I'm with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh

And I know she'll be the death of me, at least we'll both be numb
And she'll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come
All the misery was necessary when we're deep in love
Yes, I know (yes, I know), girl, I know

She told me, "Don't worry about it"
She told me, "Don't worry no more"
We both knew we can't go without it
She told me, "You'll never be alone"

I can't feel my face when I'm with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh
I can't feel my face when I'm with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh

I can't feel my face when I'm with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh
I can't feel my face when I'm with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh

She told me, "Don't worry about it"
She told me, "Don't worry no more"
We both know we can't go without it
She told me, "You'll never be alone"
Whoa

I can't feel my face when I'm with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh
I can't feel my face when I'm with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh

I can't feel my face when I'm with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh
I can't feel my face when I'm with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh

Written by: Abel Tesfaye and Max Martin

I’m Too Hungry For A Juice Detox

A friend of mine recommended a juice detox for the new year. Six recipes full of vegetables and fruit, lots of vitamins and goodness. I do want to try it, I really do. I love vegetables. Only….

Photo by Giorgi Iremadze on Pexels.com

When I wake up at 5:45am….I feel as if I need coffee and something substantial before I leave the house for work. Then while I am at work….my tummy rumbles and I fantasize about my lunch. I have been making my own lunch – salad, or couscous, or pasta, or a sandwich, nothing sensational, but all more appealing than vegetable juice.

Which means that it is more likely that I will succeed in this juice detox if I do it when I am not commuting to the office. So….I wonder how Jack will going to feel if I tell him we are trying a juice detox?

Yeah….it is not going to happen is it!

Little Flower

My little friend, so pretty, so wild, so vivacious, how fond I am of you. How I admire and treasure you.

Little flower, I know you may feel weak….I know physically you are fragile…yet you are still a vibrant and stunning bloom, and everyone still derives such a thrill from the impact you have.

All I want to do is protect you from the storm, little flower. I wish I could hide you away, so you could sleep through the worst of the storm. Then when it is safe, and peace is restored, I would hold my breath until I saw your beautiful petals once again..

Ooops – I Did It Again!

Jack is clearly very suspicious of me. He told me that there is a new series of Masterchef – Australian Masterchef – on BBC 3. So I watched some of it….

….after I watched the first episode, Jack texted me to tell me not to look at Wikipedia to find out who won.

Oooops!!! Too late!!!

What he needs to understand is that knowing the end result truly helps me to enjoy the series more. I cannot bear the drama otherwise. It is all too much for me. If I don’t know who wins, I sit there with my stomach gripped with anxiety. If I know who wins. it is so much easier to accept when I see it all play out before my eyes.

Trend-Setter – Me???

I am definitely NOT a follower of fashion. But I think I have developed a sense of my style, the kind of clothes I like to wear, and make me feel great.

A very big part of my style is dresses….oh how I love my dresses. But I know at this stage that I suit knee-length fit and flair dresses, which are mostly one colour, or pain, but a little patterning is fine. I don’t seem to suit a dress which is all patterns.

You may remember that Jack bought me a couple of dresses at the end of last year, inculuding this one….

Oh how I love wearing this dress. It is so comfy, so feminine, so me!

Well….I wore it for work one day. I was a little worried about it, because it it does not match the plain black/grey/neutral palette that seems to be adopted in the office. But, there are no rules to say you cannot wear colour, or have a little embroidery in your clothing…so I went for it.

After lunch, one of the women who works on the same floor as me said “such a pretty dress”. I smiled and said, “thank you, I was worried it might be a little too hippy-ish”. She said, “no, no, no – it’s a lovely dress.”. I replied, “I do love my dresses”. She then called me a trend-setter!!

A trend-setter – me!!! Whoop whoop!!!

I….despite knowing nothing about fashion….have found a style that makes me feel great…and it turns out…I am a trend-setter!!! lol!!!

When Jack Goes Quiet

Over the past few weekends, I have heard Jack speaking in Russian on the phone to friends and colleagues. Did I mention before that Jack speaks Russian? He went out there last year on an assignment, and years ago he lived in Russia for a few years.

But this weekend, there were very few phone-calls. Jack seemed very quiet – there is a lot on his plate at the moment, a lot on his mind.

I am incredibly proud of him, and all he does, and his amazing abilities with languages. I am proud of how much he cares. I made it my little mission to help him relax, and generally tried to spoil him.

Traumatic Travel

So on Friday morning, I was rather worried about the weather forecast:

STORM EUNICE!!!

I left my little nest even earlier, at around 6:55am. The weather forecast suggested that the winds would pick up in London between 7-10am. The tram journey was fine, and then we boarded the double-decker. This driver drove normally, but there was a lady who was talking on her phone, and as the bus took a corner, she went flying across the bus and I had to catch her! I arrived in the office at around 8:20am, so I probably did not need to work so early, but I was just glad that the journey was not stressful.

But at the end of the day, when it was time to leave, everything had changed when it came to the London commute. Even the walk towards the station was terrifying. I had to walk past a construction site, a multi-storey huge building site. Of course there was no work going on. But the whole side of the site, the expanse of mesh that is a safety net had blown away, and there was debris being blown around. Even more scary were long scaffolding poles, that seemed to be fixed at one end to something, however, they were being flung around into the air, and clanging like giant wind chimes….in those powerful winds. I was absolutely petrified. I rushed past as quickly as I could, envisioning the most awful of calamities.

At the station I was told that all of the trains were cancelled and at a tree had fallen onto the tram line, so the only option was the buses. So the TFL man told me to catch a bus going west, and then to switch onto another bus that would take me closer to home. It was the oddest journey. It took three hours to get home. (When I checked on Google Maps, it said it would have taken two and a half hours to walk, so how the bus journey took even longer was a mystery to me.) There were roads closed along the whole route. The bus driver was speeding along, people kept on pressing the button and asking him to stop, but he ignored them. One lady asked him if we were being taken hostage. I started to giggle to myself because it was all becoming so weird. We were driving through parts of South London I have never heard of.

I eventually switched bus, but even the second bus took almost an hour and half to make a journey that is normally half an hour (well, when there is no traffic) with police blockades meaning we had to take the strangest route.

I cannot tell you how glad I was to finally make it home. I was cold, wet and exhausted!!! I had a hot bath. I climbed into bed and I slept and slept and slept!!!

The Very Model Of A Modern Major General

Jim Adams, aka Newepicauthor, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen the theme: AUTOMATED/MECHANICAL/MODERN/ROBOTIC

Nutcracker, Toy, Figurine, Christmas

So yes….this was actually quite a tough theme. I found a famous song that features the word”modern” though. It is an incredibly fast paced tongue twister of a song, full of satire. It is from the musical “Pirates Of Penzance”.

If you know your history you may notice the song is packed with references that all add up to the “education” of the 19th century “modern” major general.

The actual song that I have chosen starts at 2:40 on the YouTube video below. Can you keep up with him?

I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

I'm very good at integral and differential calculus;
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's;
I answer hard acrostics, I've a pretty taste for paradox,
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous;
I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,
I know the croaking from The Frogs of Aristophanes!
Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the music's din afore,
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.

Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform,
And tell you ev'ry detail of Caractacus's uniform:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin",
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a Javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat"
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee.

For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

Written by: W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan

Fragility

I have to admit….I sometimes realize that I don’t fit in with parts of this world. I am not talking about the earth itself – oh everything under the sky that man has not made is absolutely wonderful to me. I am at ease, perfectly relaxed in nature.

But the man made world – it is so yucky to me in so many ways. Tall office blocks – they are rather hideous. I really do not like loud, garish, flashy venues. I do not like extravagance and gaudy showing off. It makes me feel sick when I have seen for my own eyes so many families in other lands working with all their might just to afford a scraping of food to keep their families alive another day.

When I know that I don’t fit in, it is sometimes hard to be happy. I can be a little butterfly, and show a light touch, delicacy and diplomacy, because it seems to be the right way to go about life. But I would not want anyone to be fooled into thinking that I am comfortable in that environment.

At a moment’s notice, if I feel threatened, my charm is dropped, I beat my wings and flee. I may have to grace unpleasant environments with my presence due to necessity – but I would prefer to spend not a minute longer than I have to in this man made world.

Let me get back to where I belong.

Butterfly, Wings, Flowers, Pollinate